“China is not a friendly neighbour”

Former Governor of Meghalaya M.M. Jacob who also served as Minister of State for Home in the P.V. Narasimha Rao Government recounts his long tenure at the top in Indian political life, the changes that India is undergoing as a nation and of the positive role NRIs can play to sustain India’s growth. This piece has been extracted from an exclusive interview that Jacob gave former GOPIO chairman Thomas Abraham. The extracts are not ad verbum, but convey the essence of what he has said


M.M. Jacob

On increasing terrorism…
I have found that terrorism and agitations are directly related to areas of neglect. Whenever people are deprived of opportunities and growth, they get frustrated. I have been witness to the Naxalbadi movements, the agitations in Andhra Pradesh. There is a dearth of schools, roads, hospitals, housing in several of India’s tribal belts. In the absence of basic infrastructure and lack of hope, people resort to violence and terrorism to get themselves out of the rut. We need to address their issues very effectively and promptly to bring peace.

Presenting ‘Memoirs of M.M. Jacob’ to the Prime Minister

On the role of China…
We do not have a friendly neighbor that can help us. On the contrary, and here I’m talking about China, our neighbour’s interest has always been to see that Maoist groups keep flourishing in India. A sort of guerilla warfare is going on. I have over the years collected information on several instances on Maoist activities in the northeast. They have been taking place because of China’s direct involvement in destabilizing this part of India. The Nagaland issue is once again alive because the militants are receiving training in China. It has become a real menace in Indian society, this luring away of the youth and throwing them into a mindset of violence.

On education and food security…
We have not been able to make a success out of our education systems. Some states like Kerala, Mizoram and Delhi have achieved 100 per cent literacy, but there are huge swathes in the country that are only 50 per cent literate. We need to improve here. We have been somewhat able to produce more wheat and rice and have come a long way since the days of the second world war when scarcity was the norm. Some of the states like Punjab have marched ahead in this area, but overall, we still need to do much more to alleviate starvation issues.

On the role of GOPIO in involving NRIs…
GOPIO has played a very useful role. Traditionally, we were not focused on India’s diaspora. Now we are looking at Overseas Indians with a new vision. We have to thank the GOPIO for playing a huge role in this shift in policy. Ever since my association with the GOPIO, I have found it an organization that takes up thought-provoking subjects for the benefit of PIOs all over the world. I have deep appreciation for the activities they carry out. I saw the way they engaged the attention of the entire world when the Fiji crisis came and many Indians were suffering at the hands of a military dictatorship.


May 2011

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